Butterfish


Butterfish - Peprilus triacanthus

*Information from FAO Species Identification Guide Western Central Atlantic*

Butterfish
Size
Maximum to 30 cm, commonly to 20 cm.
Habitat, biology, and fisheries
A pelagic fish forming large loose schools across the continental shelf and into large brackish estuaries; over sand/mud bottoms and at depths generally less than 55 m, except during the winter months when it may descend to almost 200 m in deeper waters offshore; juveniles are often found under floating weeds and with jellyfish. Adults feed on jellyfish, small fish, crustaceans, and worms; the juveniles are plankton and jellyfish feeders; butterfish are themselves important forage species. Mature at 1 year and live to about 3 or more; spawning takes place a few miles offshore; different populations spawn at very different times of the year. Highly esteemed as a foodfish, marketed fresh and frozen; caught mainly with otter trawls, but also with seines, pound nets, and handlines.The fishery, which dates to 1800, is concentrated north of the area in the Middle Atlantic Bight where landings in 1996 were 3 600 t. FAO statistics report landings ranging from 568 to 1889 t from 1995 to 1999.
Distribution
Atlantic coast of Florida in shallow and deep water, may stray very rarely around the coast into the Gulf of Mexico; absent from Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Northward the species is found along the USA Atlantic coast to the Gulf of St. Lawrence (greatest abundance is between Cape Hatteras and Maine) and there are tiny populations in southeastern Newfoundland.